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Corps pitching first marina on lake in 30-plus years
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Forsyth County News

GAINESVILLE — The first public marina on Lake Lanier in at least 30 years — and the first ever on the Chestatee River arm of Lanier — is being considered by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The corps’ Mobile, Ala., District plans to soon send out a formal “request for proposals” for a marina on 17 acres at Bolding Mill Campground at 4055 Chestatee Road, off Cool Springs Road in northwest Hall County, near where it meets Forsyth and Dawson counties.

“Currently, there are no marinas in this area, and this marina will satisfy the portion of the master plan that calls for fuel services on this end of the lake,” said Lisa Parker, district spokeswoman.

“There is nothing up that whole stretch,” said Tim Rainey, the corps’ operations project manager at Lanier. “We have needed services [in that area] basically forever.”

The nearest marinas are Port Royale, south of Hwy. 369/Browns Bridge Road in Forsyth County, and Sunrise Cove and Gainesville Marina in Hall.

At one point, Rainey said, the corps tried to set up fuel services of some kind in the Chestatee area, but “that didn’t go anywhere.”

The new marina would occupy part of the day-use area at Bolding Mill, he said.

“Our thoughts were if we could put something attractive there, such as a marina, it could increase the visitation to the campground as well,” Rainey said. “You go camping and you’ve got your boat right there. It all kind of works together.”

There are nine marinas operating at Lanier, leased by the corps, as determined by the Lake Lanier Master Plan, Parker said.

Overall, the U.S. Army Corps operates 46 park areas around the lake, which has 690 miles of shoreline, according to the agency website.

“Additional areas have been leased from [the corps] and are operated as city and county parks,” states the corps.

While the corps may be adding one marina, it has lost another — Lanier Harbor Marina off Buford Dam Road in Gwinnett County.

Lanier Harbor closed Feb. 5. However, a 24-hour towing service, TowBoatUS, still operates there, said former marina owner Barkley Geib.

Parker said she doesn’t believe Lanier Harbor “will ever be leased out as a marina again.”

“It is just not a conducive site for a marina,” she said. “Due to the lack of water, it only qualifies for [a] minimal amount of slips, which is a large portion of any marina’s income.

“That, along with other considerations, is why we will probably not be rebidding that as a marina site. Perhaps we can get a local government partner to take it over and operate it as a park and boat ramp area.”

Geib said the economic downturn, compounded by the 2007-09 drought that drained Lanier to a historic low water level, hammered business, including plans for multiuse development.

“I had been losing money every day,” he said.